Lack of parking space causing problems

Coalition MP says government needs to work with trucking industry to alleviate parking-space problems involving trucks and recreational vehicles

By Brad Gardner | June 29, 2012

A Coalition MP has proposed involving the trucking industry in the design of rest areas to prevent run-ins with recreational vehicles in local towns.

Federal Gippsland MP Darren Chester says recreational vehicles cannot find spare parks, which is having a flow-on effect to those reliant on tourism.

"There is a link between heavy vehicle users and recreational vehicles and it is causing problems for our tourism industry. It is a substantial issue in many regional communities that large recreational vehicles do not have anywhere to park in our towns," he says.

"I think that if we can work in a constructive way with the heavy vehicle sector in providing rest areas which are appropriate for their needs, we may be able to come up with a design which alleviates some of the pressure on recreational vehicles as well."

He made the comments while speaking in Federal Parliament about the 10-year National Road Safety Strategy, which aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on Australian roads by at least 30 percent between 2011 and 2020.

Chester says improving heavy vehicle rest areas is important.

"I think if we are going to go down the path of enforcing more regulations on professional drivers – the heavy vehicle drivers – in our community, then we have to provide decent and safe facilities for them to take the appropriate breaks," he says.

Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport Catherine King says 1,291 people died on Australian roads last year, while more than 30,000 were hospitalised due to crashes.

During her speech to the parliament, King cited the government’s decision to extend the Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program to 2019. The initiative provides new and upgraded rest areas, parking and decoupling bays and road upgrades.

"We currently are, and will continue to be, dependent on heavy vehicles. They will not be disappearing from our roads anytime soon," King says.

"But we can improve the safety of truck drivers, and by extension the rest of those on the road, by expanding the provision of suitable rest areas."

She says there has already been progress towards reducing the crash and injury rate, pointing to strengthened drink-driving and speed enforcement programs introduced recently in the states and territories.

King says there will be improvements to road design and speed limit guidelines over the next two years, along with the introduction of best practice approaches to speed enforcement and measures to reduce unlicensed driving.

She says preliminary data from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) shows total road deaths declined by 9.5 percent in 2011 relative to the baseline figure in National Road Safety Strategy.

The preliminary figures also show a 21 percent reduction in road deaths among drivers and motorcyclists aged 17 to 25 years. King says there has been a 13 percent decline in motorcyclist deaths and deaths from single vehicle crashes.

"We were the first country to introduce compulsory wearing of seatbelts and bicycle helmets. We were at the forefront of random breath testing, roadside drug testing laws and child restraint requirements," she says.

"We led the way in performance-based vehicle safety standards, black spot road improvement programs and fatigue management reforms in the heavy vehicle transport sector. But there is clearly a lot more that all of us need to do."

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